Joshua Marshall

What are we doing about accessibility?

Joshua Marshall is Head of Accessibility at GDS. Just before Christmas, we sat him down for a short chat about his work.

In Joshua’s opinion, the single most important thing GDS has done to improve accessibility across government is “change how we write.”

Improving the quality of all the written content on GOV.UK has made more of a difference than anything else, he says. “It’s changed the perception of how government talks to its citizens.”

There are other important lessons Joshua has learned, including:

  • everything we build should be accessible by default – accessibility is never an afterthought
  • scaling knowledge between members of growing product teams all over the country was a hard problem to solve
  • we’ve put a lot of work into accessibility but there’s still more we can do, particularly for the deaf community

You can listen to the full interview (just under seven minutes) by clicking the play button in the embedded SoundCloud widget below. There’s also a full transcript just below that, if you’d prefer to read one.

An audio file for direct download is available from The Internet Archive.

(This audio interview is a new experiment for us – what do you think of it as a format for explaining what we do? As always, we’d love to hear your feedback.)

Follow Joshua on Twitter: @partiallyblind

Follow Giles on Twitter@gilest


Talking accessibility at ustwo

Back in May of this year I tweeted about how impressed I was that London-based agency ustwo had released an update to their “Pixel Perfect Precision” handbook, which included a new section on accessibility.

The handbook, written so that new members of their team can quickly get up to speed on how they’re expected to work, was notable in that it pushed accessibility as a skill designers and developers should be giving consideration to. That it does so in such an open and inviting way is a great thing.

As the Accessibility Lead for the GDS I spend my time sharing that view; across the GDS, and across wider government, and the web community. I was contacted by ustwo and invited to go and speak to their designers and front-end developers about my role in the GDS, how we work, and the kinds of things that accessibility here encompasses.